Sairee Chahal is the Founder and CEO of SHEROES – a women-only social network. She grew up in the small town of Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, with her mother playing a significant role in her early life. When asked about her inspiration behind starting SHEROES, she reminisces: “When I came to Delhi in the ‘90s, I realized the power of the Internet. I internalized how it can become a game-changer. Growing up in a small town, I saw how limited the opportunities for women were. I felt the internet could open up a whole world of opportunities, especially for women – jobs, upskilling, business, health, self-care et cetera. For many women, SHEROES is the first social network they are getting on to – a safe and non-judgmental place to be themselves and build on their strengths.”
Citing the challenges, Sairee cites the very idea of a women-only social network as a challenge; in order to make the platform safe and secure, investment in technology was (and is) vital. She goes on to mention how almost 2,00,000 male profiles are deactivated from the platform, every day, in order to secure safety; being a larger platform makes keeping it safe even more challenging, though always a top priority.
Today, SHEROES is a comprehensive online ecosystem for women. As per Sairee: over 2 million women have benefitted via counselling on the ‘Ask Sheroes’ chat helpline; more than 1 million women have been directly impacted via opportunities; the ‘women in tech’ initiative has a presence in over 100 colleges and is growing fast; creative entrepreneurs have got their own ecosystem not only to sell products, but also to learn how to ‘market themselves’ and their products better – these entrepreneurs are able to showcase their products at some of the offline events and activities that SHEROES organizes, and also receive mentorship from Sheroes Champions, in addition. Some impact, one would say, reading these milestones.
When posed the question, what she would do differently, if given a second chance, pat comes the reply: “I would have started much, much earlier! The impact generated has had a domino effect, and therein is my motivation, no matter what the challenge.”
Submitted By: Sarah Berry
(Consultant, specialising in Public diplomacy, outreach and training.
Currently serving at the Indian School of Public Policy.)